Premier Andrew Fahie has staunchly defended hiring consultant Claude Skelton Cline, claiming that he worked for the money that he was paid.
Appearing before the Commission of Inquiry (COI) recently, Premier Fahie said Skelton Cline ‘gets things done’ wherever he goes.
“There is no doubt in anyone’s mind that the man has produced and there is no doubt in anyone’s mind that … [he helped] produce a lovely Tortola Pier Park,” the Premier stated. “He gets things done wherever he goes.”
“We named some of the areas [that Mr Skelton Cline worked on], and we could go into them one by one. The man worked,” Fahie added.
Wasn’t Premier apprehensive about CSC any at all?
Questions were raised by the COI about whether the Premier had any apprehension giving Skelton Cline contracts that had no real ‘reporting’ component so that deliverables and work progress could be properly monitored and assessed. The question was asked against the backdrop of Skelton Cline’s controversial Neighbourhood Partnership Project that happened nearly a decade earlier.
“Did your own experience of what had happened in the Neighborhood Partnership Project factor in?” COI attorney Bilal Rawat asked.
He continued: You [Premier Fahie] entered into a situation where you are prepared to give $100,000 to an individual without requiring him to make any kind of report to you at all during the currency of the contract. So, what you decided to do was [say] ‘I’ll give him a six-month trial run. If at the end of the six months I don’t like his report, he can keep his $100,000 or his $97,980’.
Stewardship of public funds
Rawat further stated that it came down to a matter of stewardship of public funds and whether the Premier should have been asking for reports during the currency of the contract.
But Premier Fahie countered by saying reporting tasks were not Skelton Cline’s only job within the duration of his contract.
The Premier previously told the COI that his intention had always been to have Skelton Cline serve as a Ministerial Political Advisor, despite something different being in his contract.
Fahie explained that any disparity between Skelton Cline’s contractual requirements and the duties he actually performed was largely because the technical staff inside the Premier’s Office were unable to source a suitable contract template for what he (Fahie) actually wanted Skelton Cline to do.
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